What does Fairtrade mean for you?
Most of the commodities in the market place today are produced with no indication on the product’s labels of where and how the ingredients were grown or developed. Often this means that with commodity products like coffee, tea and of course chocolate, the growers (usually in the third world) are underpaid for their produce. The price they are paid not being governed by the set cost of sustainable production but by volatile world markets leaving growers vulnerable. Obviously this is not fair! Ensuring that producers earn enough money from the product that they grow enables them to invest in education, health, their environment and make choices about their futures. Fair Trade is about giving power back to the growers.
For Fairtrade products covered by the FLO standards (i.e. tea, coffee and chocolate) the FAIRTRADE Label is your only independent guarantee that the products you are buying have been fairly traded. To learn more about the certification system behind the label/guarantee.
To find out more go to: www.fairtrade.net
What is a co-operative?
Clearly, the advantages of international trade are not reaching all people in the world. For small farmers, access to market or price information is difficult and as a result, many small farmers become more and more dependent on middlemen.
Co-operatives are groups of small farmers who have joined together gain to form democratically run organisations. Producers and workers get experience in organising themselves to defend their rights together and not depend anymore on others. Producers learn about the international trade of their product, acquire export experience and can improve the quality of their product through close cooperation with Fairtrade registered importers. Workers learn what their rights are and how the organisation is managed. They are also involved in project definition of the Fairtrade premium income, which goes towards the community i.e. environment, education, community structure.
Who grows Cocolo Chocolate?
El Ceibo is made up of thirty-six smaller co-operatives and derives its name from a tree, which, once cut down, continues to produce new shoots reflecting the strength of its members. Its operations reflect the culture of the indigenous population. The farmers own the co-operative and a rotation system exists whereby all members spend some time at the cocoa factory in the capital, La Paz, or in the administrative section. This system enables the farmers extra opportunities to develop skills that will help them remain competitive in the market. Solidarity is a key feature of the co-operative at all levels. El Ceibo utilises the Fairtrade benifits of both premium and fair price in the following crucial ways:
Social: Fairtrade has enabled the farmers to breakout of the exploitative agricultural system through their increased independence and marketing power. The Fairtrade benefits have ensured that there is a collective fund available for community work. A Safety fund has also been set up that can be accessed by all members in case of a medical emergency. In fact, farmers are required to reserve some of their revenue for social projects, ensuring community development and technical training is available, and provide a safety fund for medical emergencies. The farmers are generally eager to participate in co-operative initiatives given the strong sense of community spirit and this is reflected in the use of Fairtrade premiums. In 1995, using Fairtrade bonuses and its own resources, El Ceibo began construction of a new factory, equipped with modern installations. This factory enables the producers to manufacture cocoa products that meet the high standards set by the European Union, thus enabling their export to Europe.
Environmental: Fairtrade has ensured that efforts have been made to increase the ecological land management techniques. These include shade cultivation, composting and minimising the use of chemicals, with incentives for organic production including a higher price on the market. Ninety five percent of El Ceibo’s producers conserve virgin rain forest and attempt to reduce degradation through multifaceted styles of production. Natural methods are used to control pests. Training activities are held related to cocoa production, agro forestry and diversification. In recent years, the money derived from premiums has been given directly to farmers as an incentive for organic production.
The National Confederation of Dominican Cocoa Producers (Conocado) is a group of 9,000 small scale cocoa farmers in the Dominican Republic. Founded in 1988 as a response to low global cocoa prices, CONACADO aims to decrease dependency on middlemen by exporting their products directly to consumer markets. Because cocoa accounts for 90 percent of its members’ cash income, earning the Fair Trade premium makes a significant difference in members’ lives.
CONACADO provides its members with the following support: Technical assistance and training to enable co-op members to improve the quality of their cocoa production l Interest-free loans and access to credit l Export assistance through storage space and transportation of members’ crops to the market l Funding for development projects by applying for funds from international donors CONACADO cocoa is certified organic and is grown under the shade canopy of fruit-producing trees that provide food security for the farmers. Sales to the Fair Trade market have enabled CONACADO to set up a nursery that supplies low-cost plants to farmers so that they can grow most of their own food. Inspired by the success of CONACADO, some producers’ wives have formed associations and have started businesses making wine, liquor, jams, chocolates, and organic fertilizers.
“With Fair trade income we were able to implement a fermentation program to improve the quality of our cocoa and to convert our production to certified organic. This improved our position in the export market. The Fair Trade market is a very important market for the survival of our associates.”
- Isidoro de la Rosa, Executive Director of CONACADO.
Alter Trade is located in the Philippines and works to improve conditions on the island of Negros, where small-scale farming takes place. Cane sugar is generally the favoured crop for cash income. Although it accounts for a very minimal portion of the Philippines’ export earnings, the work available on sugar estates is the only form of employment for many of the landless and near landless inhabitants of Negros. The existence of Alter Trade ensures that these conditions are at least manageable and that farmers can improve their lives, although they still may be denied access to land ownership.
The Alter Trade Foundation Incorporated is currently involved in promoting three programs it hopes will practically implement its aims for its producers. The Holistic Organisational Empowerment program is targeted at improving the skills of the producers and encourages them to develop independent and sustainable communities; the Sustainable Production and Area Development Enterprise program aims to increase the quality and value of products; the Capability Building and Support Services program aims to provide credit and training to enterprising groups and individuals that wish to undertake projects in line with the aforementioned programs.
APPTA is an association of small producers founded in 1987. Currently the association consists of 1067 producers of which 80% is indigenous Bribri or Cabécar and 20% is black or white. Women consist 38% of the members of the association.
We are working in more than 30 communities in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica: Talamanca. Our organization works in the aspect of organic agriculture and its implications in our present and future.
Currently we are working in the production and marketing of organically certified cacao, bananas, and other fruits. APPTA has been recognized for its efforts in preserving the environment in a productive way. The efforts have impelled the development of Talamanca’s traditional agro-ecological production system to realize the recovery of beneficial conditions for the environment while also inducing the development of income-generating capacities. The environmental sustainability and capacity building are sought through 1) the development of training processes, 2) the improvement of the production and process of cacao, 3) the constant marketing of banana for puree, banana for fresh fruit, and 4) the placement of some 20 organic products in the national market. These are done not only with the technical team, but also with producers. The fruits and crops are produced in the traditional way practiced by the ancestors of the inhabitants of Talamanca that cultivate in an integrated system; cacao, together with bananas and other crops are produced under the shades of lumber trees and fruit trees, which provides great conditions to protect the environment.